One IS Clearly Better: Garmin Forerunner 35 vs 235

By | June 2, 2018
(Last Updated On: December 4, 2018)

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is the successor to the Forerunner 25 and adds a built-in HR monitor, which allows you to get heart rate data without having to wear a chest strap.

More than just an activity tracker, you can pair your smartphone with the Forerunner 35 to get notifications from your phone on the device itself. You would also need to pair your phone for the Live Tracking feature. Otherwise, the Forerunner 35 can pretty much function on its own.

Meanwhile, the Garmin Forerunner 235 takes everything that you like about the Garmin Forerunner, yet adds some more capabilities that you wished the earlier model offered. Additional features include GLONASS, a better display resolution, more detailed running and fitness metrics, as well as the ability to customize watch faces.

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs. Garmin Forerunner 235: Battle of the Square and the Round Garmin Forerunners

Coming from the same series, the Garmin Forerunner 35 and the Garmin Forerunner 235 are the closest in terms of release date and price. Both entry-level watches allow consumers to get a taste of what Garmin could offer. Other devices in the same series are:

But let us focus on the Forerunner 35 and the 235. Which one should you buy?

Design and dimensions

The Garmin Forerunner 235 has chemically strengthened glass lens and silicone strap. The round sportswatch measures 45 mm in diameter and has a thickness of 11.7 mm. Even so, it is very light at only 42 grams.

This gadget has a transflective memory in pixel display that you can easily see even under direct sunlight. The color display has a resolution of 215 pixels by 180 pixels and measures 1.23 inches.

The Garmin Forerunner 35 makes use of the same materials. The rectangular shape of the watch, however, measures 35.5 mm by 40.7 mm. It is also thicker than the Garmin Forerunner 235 at 13.3 mm, but lighter at 37.3 grams.

The display is made of the same transflective memory in pixel material, but it has a smaller display size at 0.93 inches with resolutions of 128 pixels by 128 pixels.

You can store up to 200 hours of activity data with the Forerunner 235, whereas you can only keep up to seven activities with the Forerunner 35.

Model  Forerunner 235  Forerunner 35
Chemically strengthened glass  Yes  Yes 
Silicone strap  Yes  Yes 
Dimensions (mm)  45 x 45 x 11.7  35.5 x 40.7 x 13.3 
Weight (grams)  42.0  37.3 
Water rating  5 ATM  5 ATM 
Transflective memory-in-pixel display  Yes  Yes 
Display size (inches)  1.23  0.93 
Display resolution (pixels)  215 x 180  128 x 128 
Color display  Yes  No 
Memory/History  200 hours of activity data  7 activities 
Price  $249.99  $169.99 

Water resistance

Both the Forerunner 235 and the Forerunner 35 have a water-resistant rating of 5 ATM, which means that you can wear them while swimming, fishing, or water rafting. You cannot dive or snorkel with them, though.

Maximum battery life

The Garmin Forerunner 235 uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery that lasts up to nine days when used as a smartwatch, and gives you 11 hours of power when the GPS is turned on.

The Forerunner 35 delivers the same battery life when used in smartphone mode, but lasts 2 hours longer than the 235 when the GPS is turned on.

Model  Forerunner 235  Forerunner 35
Smartwatch Mode  9 days  9 days 
GPS mode  11 hours  13 hours 

Clock features

Both of these sports watches deliver the same timekeeping functions: time and date display, GPS time synchronization, automatic adjustment to daylight saving time, alarm clock, and stopwatch.

Smart features

With the Forerunner 235, you can download watch faces, widgets, and apps to help customize it. You can get notified when somebody texts or call you. It also gives notifications about the weather and any calendar schedules you have set. You can use the Forerunner 235 to find your phone or to operate your camera shutter remotely. What’s more, it also works with the Garmin Connect mobile app.

The Forerunner 35 has most of the Forerunner 235’s smarts. But unlike the 235, the 35 is not compatible with Connect IQ, which means that you cannot customize its watch face and the data fields. You also cannot add apps and widgets to it. It does not work with VIRB camera remote and does not offer any calendar-related features.

Model  Forerunner 235  Forerunner 35
Smart notifications  Yes  Yes 
Calendar  Yes  No 
Weather  Yes  Yes 
Controls smartphone music  Yes  Yes 
Find My Phone  Yes  Yes 
VIRB® Camera Remote  Yes  No 
Compatible with iPhones  Yes  Yes 
Compatible with Android devices  Yes  Yes 
Compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile  Yes  Yes 

Sensors

The Garmin Forerunner 35 has three sensors to help it do its job: GPS, a heart rate monitor, and an accelerometer.

The Forerunner 235, on the other hand, has GLONASS to augment its GPS location sensors, making it more accurate and faster when it comes to pinpointing locations.

Model  Forerunner 235 Forerunner 35
GPS  Yes  Yes 
GLONASS  Yes  No 
Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor  Yes  Yes 
Accelerometer  Yes  Yes 

Activity tracking

Using these sensors, both the Forerunner 35 and 235 can count your steps, monitor your sleep quality, and estimate the number of calories you burned. It can also measure the distance traveled and the intensity of minutes, as well as determine how long you were doing either moderate or vigorous exercise.

Both can remind you to get up and exercise with the moving bar. Additionally, these Forerunners can learn your behavior and give you a daily step goal.

Heart rate features

The Forerunner 35 and 235 share the same heart rate features, giving you your HR zones, alerts, and calories. But with the Forerunner 235, you can also get your recovery time.

Training and analysis

Both the Forerunner 235 and 35 can use GPS to analyze your speed and see the distance you have traveled. You can also get your laps automatically or manually set. And you can get a V02 max estimate.

To make it easier for you to get the data you need, you can customize the data pages and activity profiles according to what exercises you do the most. Other tracking and analysis features offered by both 235 and 35 include Auto Pause, interval training, audio prompts, LiveTrack, and activity history that you can view on the watch itself.

With the Forerunner 235, however, you have some training features that you cannot find in the Forerunner 35. You have access to advanced workouts and you can download training plans. You also get an indicator for the aerobic training effects of your workouts. Additionally, you can get customizable alerts, finish time, button lock, and auto scroll.

Model  Forerunner 35 Forerunner 235 
GPS speed and distance  Yes  Yes 
Customizable data pages  Yes  Yes 
Customizable activity profiles  Yes  Yes 
Auto Pause  Yes  Yes 
Interval training  Yes  Yes 
Auto Lap  Yes  Yes 
Manual lap  Yes  Yes 
V02 max  Yes  Yes 
Audio prompts  Yes  Yes 
LiveTrack  Yes  Yes 
Activity history on watch  Yes  Yes 
Advanced workouts  No  Yes 
Downloadable training plans  No  Yes 
Aerobic training effect  No  Yes 
Customizable alerts  No  Yes 
Finish time  No  Yes 
Touch/button lock  No  Yes 
Auto scroll  No  Yes 

Specific exercises

You get preloaded run and cycle profiles with both the Forerunner 235 and 35.

The Forerunner 35 has preloaded cardio training profiles, while the 235 has outdoor recreation features.

Alternatives

While both the Garmin Forerunner 35 and the Forerunner 235 are capable running sportswatches, you might want to check out the competition. If you are really serious about training for a marathon, or if you just want to get fit in the best way possible, you have some alternatives.

Polar M430 and Polar M600 are very popular options for runners. The M430 has accurate location tracking, great battery life, heart rate and sleep tracking, and several other fitness tracking data. However, it is very simple to use and very affordable at $200. The M600 pretty much keeps what you would have liked about the M430, but added Android Wear capabilities to it.

You may also want to consider the Tomtom Spark 3, which has multiple sports mode, a built-in heart rate monitor, personalized workouts, a music player, and GPS location tracking.

Of course, you do not have to look very far, too, with the Garmin Forerunner 935. This model is very comfortable that you could easily forget that you are wearing anything on your wrist. It has multi-sports tracking and it can be worn while swimming, making it the perfect device for triathletes. It offers you fast and accurate location tracking and a wonderfully long battery life. One charge can keep the device working for two weeks as a smartwatch, and for 24 hours if the GPS is turned on.

Another device from Garmin that you should consider is the Garmin Vivosmart HR Plus, which boasts a very rugged design, a long-lasting battery, an e-ink touch screen, and all the sensors you need for the fitness tracking, all packed in a very compact and water-resistant device.

You should also check out the Garmin Forerunner 735XT and the Garmin Fenix 5.

Final say

For those who are serious about their fitness or for runners who are looking for a sports watch that could help with their training, the obvious choice would be the Forerunner 235. The bigger device has a bigger display size with a better resolution, rendered in full color. It also has GLONASS satellite and can act as a VIRB control. Plus, it has enough storage capacity for 200 hours of activity data.

While it does not have the Forerunner 35’s Virtual Pacer feature, it more than makes up for with the VO2 max estimate, the recovery advisor, and the race predictor. The Forerunner 235 also has more training features such as auto-scrolling through various data pages, advanced workouts, and pace alerts.

However, for those who are looking for something more wallet-friendly, the Forerunner 35 will still prove to be a very capable GPS running watch.

Bottom Line: Unless you are very price conscious, I highly recommend going with the best in class Forerunner 235 available here.

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